6. PROPOSED DETAILED STATEMENT OF POLICY
This Chapter contains the Proposed Detailed Statement of the Scottish Government Policy (the Policy) for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste (the Waste) arising in Scotland. It should be read in conjunction with the Environmental Report which considers the Policy proposals and reasonable alternatives to them and assesses their environmental implications and with the Supplementary Information document.
The Proposed Detailed Statement defines the scope and key terminology of the Policy along with implications of its implementation for the management and control of the Waste. The Contents of the Detailed Statement of Policy are:
6.03 Aim and Principles of the Policy
6.04 Scope of the Policy
6.05 The Waste
6.06 Defining the Terms
6.07 Implications of the Policy
6.08 Planning Assumptions for Waste Producers and Owners
6.09 Regulation and Permitting
6.10 Review of the Application of the Detailed Statement of Policy
6.01.01 In June 2007 the Scottish Government announced that its policy for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive wastes (the Waste) arising in Scotland is to
support long-term near surface, near site storage facilities so that the Waste is monitorable and retrievable and the need for transporting it over long distances is minimal.
6.01.02 This Detailed Statement of Policy (the Policy) which has been developed in conjunction with a wide range of stakeholders:
- provides the Policy framework to enable regulators, site operators, waste producers and owners and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ( NDA) to manage the Waste and undertake the work, and duties, for which they are responsible;
- explains the aim of the Policy and the principles underpinning it;
- defines the scope of the Policy;
- defines the terms used in the Policy;
- outlines the implications of the Policy, including planning assumptions for waste producers and owners;
- describes the regulatory framework governing the policy; and
- outlines the implementation and review process for the Policy.
6.02.01 The Scottish Government Policy for the Waste is to:
support long-term near surface, near site storage and disposal facilities so that the Waste is monitorable and retrievable and the need for transporting it over long distances is minimal.
6.02.02 The Scottish Government intention is that the Policy framework for managing higher activity radioactive waste in Scotland will be sufficiently flexible to allow appropriate waste management options to be applied based on the type of waste and its radioactivity.
6.02.03 The Policy is not prescriptive on how to store or dispose of the Waste. It enables those who have responsibilities and duties to manage the Waste to determine the options available to them, all of which will be subject to robust regulatory control.
6.02.04 The Strategy for implementing the Policy will enable a range of long-term management options to be considered. These options will enable waste producers and owners to take account of developments in technology for dealing with the Waste. This recognises that knowledge of how we might deal with the Waste is still relatively new, whilst the lifetimes of some of the radioactive contamination will last many thousands of years. This Policy approach enables further development of technical options and provides opportunities for the public and stakeholders to have confidence in the ability of options to deal with the problems of long-term management and disposal of the Waste.
6.02.05 The Policy:
- the storage or disposal of the Waste in facilities constructed:
- on the surface,
- near to the surface down to depths of several tens of metres;
- the storage or disposal of the Waste in facilities located:
- on existing nuclear sites;
- near existing nuclear sites; and
- the treatment of the Waste, including sending it elsewhere for treatment, subject to any requirements by the relevant regulators in the UK and overseas for the return of the Waste.
- arrangements, including replacement or refurbishment of storage facilities, for safe and secure storage for at least 100 years, with the capability of extension beyond 100 years if necessary;
- disposal facilities to meet the requirements set by the appropriate regulators, including consideration of a period of 300 years for institutional control;
- storage and disposal facilities to be subject to monitoring as required by regulators;
- the Waste to be retrievable based on regulatory requirements;
- the location of facilities to be determined by application of the Proximity Principle;
- the need to transport the Waste over long distances is minimal; and
- the development of a Strategy to implement the Policy.
6.02.06 All storage and disposal options will:
- be subject to the environment, health, safety, security, and transport regulatory requirements and legislation at the time proposals are made; and
- take account of changes in such legislation and requirements as facilities are developed, constructed, maintained and closed.
6.03 Aim and Principles of the Policy
6.03.01 The aim of the Policy is to:
- ensure that all activities for the treatment, storage and disposal of the Waste are made in a way that protects the health and interests of people and the integrity of the environment at the time treatment, storage or disposal is undertaken, and in the future and recognises the risk of foreclosing future options;
- ensure that activities to manage the Waste are undertaken in a way that inspires public and stakeholder confidence; and
- ensure that decisions on the management of the Waste take account of cost and affordability.
6.03.02 Underpinning this aim are the principles that:
- the level of protection provided to people and the environment against radiological and any other hazards of the Waste both at the time of storage or disposal and in the future is consistent with the standards in place at the time;
- developers and operators of facilities will engage with stakeholders throughout the process of managing the Waste.
6.03.03 The Policy requires this aim and these principles to be demonstrated by those proposing storage or disposal facilities and will be subject to regulation by the relevant regulators.
Engagement and Consultation with Stakeholders
6.03.04 The Scottish Government expects waste producers and owners, developers and operators to engage at an early stage with local communities and the relevant regulatory and permitting authorities to ensure their views are taken into account when plans for treatment, storage or disposal facilities are being developed. All parties involved in any proposals to provide new, or alter existing, facilities for treatment, storage or disposal will be expected to engage and consult with local, national, UK, European Union and international stakeholders, as appropriate.
6.03.05 Engagement and consultation is already the practice for, or a requirement of, a number of bodies and of specific legislation. There will be opportunities for more formal engagement with stakeholders as part of the regulatory and planning consent processes which will be needed for options to manage the Waste.
6.04 Scope of the Policy
6.04.01 The Policy covers the Waste arising in Scotland from:
- the operation or decommissioning of civil nuclear industry sites in Scotland;
- the operation or decommissioning of that part of the former Defence Establishment at Rosyth which is currently operated as a civil nuclear site; and
- non-nuclear industry sectors, including health, education and oil and gas.
6.04.02 The Policy does not cover:
- waste arising from the decommissioning and dismantling of redundant nuclear submarines including those berthed at the former Defence Establishment at Rosyth;
- waste which has already been dealt with under the policies of previous governments;
- waste which is the subject of previous or existing contractual arrangements, including waste sent to facilities outside of Scotland;
- waste categorised as High Level Waste ( HLW) as there is no longer any such waste at nuclear sites in Scotland; and
- radioactive substances and material which are not currently classified as radioactive waste, such as spent nuclear fuel, plutonium, uranium or other such radioactive fuels and materials.
Figure 8: Location of nuclear industry sites in Scotland and the higher activity radioactive waste that they produce
6.05 The Waste
6.05.01 This is primarily solid waste, such as graphite and metal, but also includes Waste such as sludges which may be solidified as part of a treatment and/or packaging process.
6.05.02 The term higher activity radioactive waste (the Waste) as used in this Policy is:
- what is defined in current UK categorisations as Intermediate Level Waste ( ILW); and
- certain wastes categorised as Low Level Waste ( LLW), which by their nature are not currently suitable for disposal in existing LLW facilities as, for example, they may be longer-lived waste.
6.05.03 Previous inventories of radioactive waste identified Dounreay as having High Level Waste ( HLW): the properties of this Waste have altered over time to enable it now to be classified as Intermediate Level Waste ( ILW). If the substances and materials described in paragraph 6.04.02 were to be classified as Waste in the future, it is probable that most of them would be deemed to be HLW and as such they would not be covered by this Policy. The Scottish Government would need to review its Policy to consider the potential impact of any such classification changes.
Categorisation and Descriptions of the Waste
6.05.04 The Waste is categorised as:
- ILW with radioactivity levels exceeding the upper boundaries for LLW but which does not generate enough heat for this to need to be taken into account in the design of storage or disposal facilities; and
- LLW as defined in the March 2007 LLW policy ( Ref 3).
6.05.05 The 2007 UK Radioactive Waste Inventory ( Ref 4) describes waste volumes in terms of the above categorisation. Figures 8 and 9 illustrate the location and nature of the Waste arising in Scotland.
Figure 9: Estimated volume of higher activity radioactive waste arising in Scotland (m 3)
(Please note due to rounding factors with some small numbers the total percentage comes to over 100%)
6.06 Defining Terms
6.06.01 The Policy has key terms which need further definition. These are:
- near surface
- near site
- the need to transport the Waste over long distances is minimal
6.06.02 The Policy defines long-term when applied to a storage facility as at least 100 years, with the capability of extension beyond 100 years, including the replacement or refurbishment of structures and services. The timeframe for long-term storage would begin when the first consignment of the Waste is placed into the facility.
6.06.03 The Policy requires that decisions to construct new, or adapt existing storage facilities, should be based on compliance with a period of stability and capability of at least 100 years. It expects these facilities to be reviewed at regular intervals, including by regulators, to ensure that they can be maintained for at least 100 years and possibly beyond, if necessary.
6.06.04 The Policy recognises that, in the management of radioactive waste facilities, it is now generally accepted as a matter of custom and practice that 300 years is an acceptable period for institutional control. The definition of long-term reflects this present approach to institutional control.
6.06.05 Disposal facilities would require to be capable of existing for much longer time periods. It will be for regulators to be satisfied that an environmental safety case can be met which complies with the principle that:
- The level of protection provided to people and the environment against radiological hazards of the Waste both at the time of disposal and in the future is consistent with the standards at the time of disposal.
6.06.06 The Policy will cover near surface storage and near surface disposal facilities. The definition of near surface, which will apply to both near surface storage and near surface disposal facilities, is:
- Facilities located at the surface of the ground or at depths down to several tens of metres below the surface.
- Near surface facilities may use the geology (rock structure) to provide an environmental safety function, but some may rely solely on engineered barriers. They could include facilities constructed under the seabed but accessed from land
- Near surface facilities may use existing structures if an acceptable safety case is made.
6.06.07 The definition of near site is not prescriptive nor does it determine a specific distance from a site. The Policy allows the Waste to be moved from a site for treatment, long-term storage or disposal. It does not require such treatment, storage or disposal to take place on the site where the Waste has arisen.
6.06.08 The definition of near site for the Policy is based on the Proximity Principle which is consistent with a risk informed approach to managing and regulating the Waste. The requirement to consider the Proximity Principle is a key element of EU environmental and municipal waste management policy, introduced in Article 5 of the Waste Framework Directive (75/442/EEC) and reflected in subsequent Directives the latest being the Revised Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC). Whilst the Directive does not apply to radioactive waste, the principle of proximity is one which is generally used in considering radioactive waste management options.
6.06.09 The definition of near site does not automatically require all non-nuclear industry waste producers to provide facilities to store or dispose of the Waste arising from their activities. The intent is that such waste producers, the majority of whom produce very small amounts of radioactive waste, will have the opportunity to use appropriate sites and facilities which are in proximity to them and are operated by others, including by the NDA or its contractors.
6.06.10 There may be circumstances, for example where large volumes of the Waste are being produced, where it will be appropriate for such non-nuclear industry waste producers to provide their own facilities. These facilities will be subject to the same requirements and regulatory controls that apply to the Waste which arises from nuclear industry activities.
Storage and Disposal
6.06.11 The Policy now covers both storage and disposal. Whilst the terms storage and disposal are sometimes used interchangeably, they have specific internationally recognised and accepted definitions when applied to radioactive waste management. These specific definitions are reflected in the regulatory requirements under which the Waste is already regulated in Scotland. The definitions of near surface storage and near surface disposal for the Policy are:
- Storage is placing the Waste in a suitable facility with the intent to retrieve it at a later time.
- Disposal is the emplacement of the Waste in a specialised land-based disposal facility without the intent to retrieve it at a later time. The time of emplacement will be regarded as the time when disposal occurs, even if the facility is eventually closed many years later. Retrieval may be possible but, if intended, the appropriate term is storage.
6.06.12 There is already a well established regulatory framework in Scotland for the management of the Waste which includes requirements for monitoring. The Policy reflects the requirements of the existing regulatory framework to define the term monitorable. The Policy:
- does not prescribe how monitoring should take place, that is a matter for operators to determine to the satisfaction of regulators;
- requires regulators to be satisfied that the monitoring of treatment, storage or disposal facilities is sufficient to ensure that there is protection of the environment and people in accordance with the definition of long-term.
6.06.13 The concept of retrievability is different for storage and disposal and this is reflected in the definitions of storage and disposal in the Policy.
6.06.14 The Policy definition for storage already has retrievability as an inherent concept and this will be built into the design and management plan of any storage facility. This reflects the assumption that storage is an interim stage in the management of the Waste which will require further handling before disposal.
6.06.15 Explicit in the definition of disposal is that there is no intention to retrieve the Waste. It is not to say that if at some point in time material needed to be recovered that it could not happen, rather that there is no intent to do so.
6.06.16 The Policy defines retrievability when applied to a disposal facility as the possibility of reversing the action of waste emplacement and recovering the Waste. This reversal and recovery could happen before or after a facility is closed.
6.06.17 The Policy requires a developer to consider retrievability when planning a near surface disposal facility. It is for a developer to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the regulators when a facility might be deemed to be capable of closure. It is for the regulators to determine whether such closure is possible.
6.06.18 The regulatory framework will have to provide assurance to the public and stakeholders that the Waste has been disposed of in a manner which will continue to protect the environment and people. It will not necessarily determine that the Waste will always be able to be retrievable in the same way as for storage. It will recognise that, if at some point in time, the Waste needed to be recovered it would require further regulatory agreement and, depending on the disposal facility, may require significant engineering to do so.
The Need for Transport over Long Distances is Minimal
6.06.19 The Policy recognises that some transportation of the Waste may be needed, for example, for treatment and this addressed in some detail in the Environmental Report. The Policy does not further define this requirement as the use the Proximity Principle to define near site already requires consideration to be given to transportation issues.
6.06.20 It will be for developers to determine, to the satisfaction of the regulators, the implications of transportation when considering the environment, health, safety, security and transport requirements for treatment, storage or disposal options.
6.07 Implications of the Policy
6.07.01 The development of the Policy has identified implications which need to be considered explicitly in considering the management of the Waste. These are:
- application of the Waste Hierarchy
- treatment of Waste, including export for treatment
The Waste Hierarchy
6.07.02 Application of the Waste Hierarchy is already an requirement for the management of non-radioactive waste and for LLW in line with the 2007 LLW policy ( Ref 3). The Hierarchy requires all waste producers to consider waste management with regard to prevention, minimisation, preparation for re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal.
Figure 10: Waste Hierarchy Diagram
6.07.03 The Policy:
- requires waste producers to apply the Waste Hierarchy;
- enables waste producers to consider treatment options, taking account of environment, health, safety, security and transport requirements and the cost of options; and
- requires regulators to take account of the application of the Waste Hierarchy when scrutinising the proposals of waste producers and facility operators for management of the Waste.
6.07.04 Regulators already consider the integrated waste management plans of waste producers and owners. It will be for regulators to assess whether the Waste Hierarchy has been applied to those plans in a manner they consider appropriate, recognising that the cost and affordability of proposals will need to be taken into account.
Treatment of the Waste and Export of the Waste for Treatment
6.07.05 The term treatment as used in this Policy does not refer to the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel for the recovery of plutonium and uranium as the Policy does not apply to spent nuclear fuel or to those nuclear materials.
6.07.06 The Policy allows treatment options to be used to comply with the Waste Hierarchy, for example, to minimise the volume of Waste and to recover material. It recognises that some treatment options may not be available in Scotland, or even in the UK.
6.07.07 The Policy allows consideration to be given to the transport of the Waste from where it arises for treatment elsewhere in the UK, and to the export of the Waste overseas, for the reasons prescribed below, in line with international agreements, including Transfrontier Shipment Regulations ( Ref 9).
6.07.08 The export of Waste to other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and EU (European Union) countries may only be authorised or consented to by the competent authority in light of an assessment of all practicable options, and should not be permitted except:
- for the recovery of reusable materials;
- for treatment that will make the subsequent storage and disposal of the Waste more manageable.
6.07.09 In all cases where such processes would add materially to the Waste needing to be disposed of in a country of destination, including in other parts of the UK, the presumption should be that they will be returned to Scotland, to a timescale agreed by regulators and competent authorities in Scotland and in the country of destination.
6.07.10 The Policy does not allow disposal of Waste overseas other than as described in paragraph 6.07.08 and where the relevant competent authorities may agree that it did not add materially to the Waste needing disposed of.
6.07.11 The Policy does not specify the type of packaging which will be required to enable the transportation, long-term storage, or disposal, of the Waste. It enables consideration to be given to alternative options.
6.07.12 It is for waste producers and owners and facility operators to satisfy the appropriate regulators that the Waste is being managed or held in a form which complies with environment, health, safety, security and transport regulations. This may result in the Waste being packaged in different forms for disposal from the current practice of cementing in metal or concrete containers.
6.07.13 In considering the environment, health, safety, security and transport implications the regulators will be expected to take account of best practice both here and in other countries. The Near Surface Disposal Facilities on Land for Solid Radioactive Waste - Guidance on Requirements for Authorisation ( Ref 5) already provides advice to developers on the approach to regulation of near surface disposal facilities.
6.07.14 The Policy recognises that there have been technical innovations and developments in recent years for example, on treatment and it is to be expected that there will be further innovations in future. The Policy is intended to provide the opportunity for such developments and that they will always be subject to appropriate regulatory requirements. Where appropriate this may require waste producers and owners and facility operators to undertake research and development activities.
6.07.15 A variety of skills are, and will continue to be, needed to ensure that the Waste is managed in a way that protects the health and interests of people and the integrity of the environment. Some skills will be specific to the radioactive aspects of the Waste and others will be more generic for example, design, engineering and construction skills. It will be for waste producers and owners and facility operators to ensure that they have access to the necessary skills. This does not mean that they will necessarily be direct employees of the organisations.
6.08 Planning Assumptions for Waste Producers
6.08.01 Nuclear site operators in Scotland have to make provision, including financial provision, in their plans for the long-term management of the Waste they produce. They will need to take account of the Policy in making their future planning assumptions.
6.08.02 It is for the NDA, its Site Licence Companies and non- NDA site operators to consider how they reflect the Policy in their forward planning assumptions. Their assumptions will need to take account of their own individual decisions on long-term management options, including treatment and packaging options, and for either near surface, near site storage or near surface, near site disposal. These decisions will be subject to regulatory requirements.
6.08.03 Non-nuclear industry waste producers also make planning assumptions for managing their Waste but the Policy does not require them to make provision for near site, near surface storage or disposal requirements in the same manner as the nuclear industry waste producers who produce the vast majority of the Waste. Non-nuclear industry waste producers are still subject to appropriate regulatory controls but they have the option of considering the availability of any potential new treatment, storage or disposal options in Scotland, subject to appropriate commercial agreements with facility providers.
6.09 Regulation and Permitting
6.09.01 There is already a well established regulatory framework in Scotland for the management of the Waste. This Policy does not alter the existing legislative and regulatory arrangements.
6.09.02 Activities by operators, or others, covered by this Policy will need to comply with the regulatory requirements in place at the time any action is proposed. This includes complying with any changes in such legislation and regulation as a facility is maintained and developed. Proposals will be scrutinised and regulated by the environment, health, safety, security and transport regulators, who will take account of best practice in Scotland and elsewhere in considering any permitting.
6.09.03 Any proposals for:
- the construction of new treatment, storage or disposal facilities, or any other facilities for managing the Waste, or
- the adaptation of existing facilities for managing the Waste,
will need to comply with the planning legislation in place at the time an application is made.
6.09.04 The Policy expects a developer of a facility to take account of public and stakeholder views concerning the amenity, value and impact, including visual impact, of any such construction at the earliest point possible in the process. It is for the planning authority to consider the need for any conditions attached to such consents.
6.10 Implementation of the Policy
6.10.01 The NDA already has the responsibility for developing and ensuring delivery and implementation of the programmes for interim storage and geological disposal for higher activity radioactive waste arising in the UK. The NDA retains this responsibility as regards the Waste arising in Scotland to which the Policy applies and this will need to be reflected in the NDA's Strategy as required by the Energy Act 2004.
6.10.02 The NDA will develop a Strategy for implementing the Policy in conjunction with other producers and owners of the Waste arising in Scotland. Whilst the Policy and Strategy may require the NDA to develop new facilities for the Waste for which it has responsibility, this does not mean that the NDA will provide facilities for other waste producers and owners. The principle remains that the "polluter pays". The NDA already provides services to waste producers and it may decide to make any new facilities available to them. If so, such arrangements would be subject to commercial arrangements. The development of the Strategy will also be subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment process.
6.11 Review of the Application of the Detailed Statement of Policy
6.11.01 The Waste covered by the Policy may be radioactive for many hundreds and even up to many hundreds of thousands of years. This Policy reflects technological advances in recent years which are enabling the Waste to be treated, or dealt with, in different ways. It is likely that there will be further technological developments in future years which may result in new and better methods of managing the Waste.
6.11.02 The Policy is subject to a review process to enable consideration of technological and societal developments, particularly as regards innovation and research and development. The Review will be undertaken by the Scottish Government and the first Review will begin 10 years after publication of this Policy.
In considering your responses to the questions please take account of the information in the Consultation Document as a whole, not just this Chapter, as well as the information in the Environmental Report and the Supplementary Information document.
Does the Proposed Detailed Statement of Policy include all relevant issues?
Please provide details and evidence to support your response.
Should the Proposed Detailed Statement of Policy include anything else?
Please provide details and evidence to support your response.